Police are creating new friendships with Roanoke City kids through ‘Badge Buddies’

They meet every week for eight weeks and this is the program’s third year

ROANOKE, Va. – Officers from the Roanoke City Police Department are creating new friendships with children at the West End Center by running. This is a part of a program started with RunAbout Sports Roanoke, called ‘Badge Buddies.’

During ‘Badge Buddies,’ kids from the West End Center team up with officers to run on the Greenway. They start their morning by stretching and warming up. Then the group takes to the Greenway to start their race. The whole time everyone is running, they are cheering each other on and encouraging one another.

They meet every week for eight weeks and this is the third year that the program is running.

“This is a way to kind of talk to kids and really reach people at a young age to show that we have another side to us that is community engagement and involvement,” Lt. Ronald Robinson with Roanoke City Police said. “It is just another way to be present in the community and give back with our time.”

Each week, the group runs a little bit further distance to eventually prepare for the Spooky 5K in the fall.

One of the fastest runners is a young man named Ethan Perdue. This is his second year running with Badge Buddies. He said he had a great time doing it last year, so he wanted to participate again.

Perdue said he likes meeting the officers and making new friends.

“We get to talk about how our day goes and talk about how old we are and what school we go to,” he said.

Badge Buddies was started with the help of Ally Bowersock from RunAbout Sports Roanoke. She wanted to help build relationships in the community.

“It is important for the community to recognize that it is not just a police officer or not just law enforcement, it is a person with a family,” Bowersock said. “Same thing with the kids, they have a unique vantage point. That’s what the run does, being able to talk about our families, our communities and what we all bring to the table.”

Ally’s vision for the program is to create camaraderie. This would include different ranks, departments and service organizations. She hopes everyone can find common footing and cross the finish line together.

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